Friday, December 13, 2013

Crash Your Computer Screen [CrashTV Review]

          The platformer genre could be divided in many, many categories. From 3D to endless running games, there are lots of ways to categorize them, but I personally use these: puzzle platformers, run and gun, and the games which require pixel-perfect timing and such skills I can only wince at the sight of them (don't laugh, there are a lot of those). z3lf's new game, CrashTV, falls in the latter category.

(Now, where's the exi- ...Oh, crap.)

          In this game, you play as an anthropomorphic TV set, who has to reach the exit in spikey, laser-y terrains. How this simple premise turns to swinging through narrow tunnels of death like Tarzan with a grappling hook you get through "upgrading" (I guess it's a new plug type) is, of course, a mystery. But we'll get back to that later.
          The graphics of this game are focused on looking like the game came out of the late 80's, with 16-bit graphics and a bit of see-through white noise image in the foreground, so it fits the theme of a TV being broken many, many times. While at it, though, it manages to be detailed (see above picture) so it doesn't ruin the nerve-crushing gameplay.
          The audio was also good enough, with some retro-sounding tunes that complete the feeling that you're playing something from the age of Super Mario Bros. while it totally isn't. Still, it feels really like that age thanks to the music.
          Since I have brought up many times how mind-bendingly hard this game is, I think I should talk about that a bit, too. The game starts as you'd expect every platformer; you are, first, a TV set with a pair of legs, nothing much else. Then, you start getting "upgrades," which let you jump, double jump, have a grappling hook, and disable lasers, respectively. There's also another type of upgrade, but I'll let you find that out for yourself. Then, as you earn upgrades, the game goes from "Easy peasy" to "I'm going to smash something this very moment" over the course of a few levels. 

(My feelings about this game in a nutshell.)

         The levels mostly consist of narrow tunnels paved with sharp spikes, and lasers that turn on and off whenever you activate your "disabling" skill. That's where pixel-perfect timing comes in. The narrow tunnels are mostly solved by your grappling hook, as you zoom towards the tunnel and jump just fast enough to get through the tunnel, but not ramming into it in the process. Meanwhile, the lasers require you to disable and control your grappling hook at the same time. These are done in a split-second, at once, mind you, so you have to think and act fast, since as much as a millisecond difference is going to be fatal. Given the short time you can finish in, though, this game won't be longer than 10 minutes at most. But that's going to be stressful.

(So I'm supposed to control my grappling hook, disable and enable electricity, in midair, all at once...)

          The innovation here is the ability to stop lasers, which, combined with the other features like the heavily-used grappling hook, combine up to a unique and incredibly fast-paced experience that I'm sure I didn't see before. The platformer genre is kind of overused recently, though, but this takes it up a notch.
          And lastly, the other things in the game. The story is not really interesting; it consists of another TV set mumbling to itself that only really tells you you have to search for a main computer. That's all there is to it. And, while this game has small easter eggs (like the TV showing Pac-Man when "consuming" the upgrade), there are issues with the controls, which sour the game a bit. For example, the "down" key is kind of universal, being the key for entering doors and disabling lasers, too. As such, when you're near the exit, and the game doesn't realize that, you could press "down" and accidentally kill yourself with a laser that turns on when you use your disabler skill.
          Graphics: 4/5 (Though it's difficult, this game manages to look old and modern at the same time.)
          Gameplay: 5/5 (Thoughtful, inventive gameplay that makes you have to think out your moves and tests your reactions.)
          Innovation: 4/5 (While platformers are an overused genre, laser disabling/enabling makes a twist in the game that puts you to think more about what to do.)
          Sound: 4/5 (The retro music perfectly fits the theme, and the sound effects are not bad either.)
          Other: 2/5 (The control issues sour the experience enough to warrant a point taken away.)

          Overall: 19/25, 3.8/5 (rounded: 4/5) (This game will make you cringe a bit from the hardness it presents to you first, but when you get into it, you'll get a thoughtful little platformer that's enough for a bit of enjoyment during your coffee break.)

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